- The Avant 705 is a very convincing boat, beautifully matched, both stylistically and dynamically, to one of the finest outboard engines on the market.
- There are no perceptible fumes at idle, and yet the pickup is profoundly satisfying …
- … the cockpit offers secure seating for seven, and yet the handling is strikingly agile …
Nordkapp Avant 705
Alex Smith takes a closer look at an inventive take on the family bowrider from Norwegian sports boat specialists Nordkapp.
Founded in 1966 in Sarpsborg, a few miles south of Oslo, Norwegian builders Nordkapp are intimately involved with Espen Thorup, one of our favourite small-boat designers of the modern era. He is the man responsible for a lot of particularly memorable projects, like the Bella 700 RAID, the Aquador 35AQ, the Flipper 640ST and the entire Sting fleet of powerboats. He’s been on board with Nordkapp since they changed ownership back in 1992, and the modern fleet is still saturated with his design cues.
That’s plainly a promising start for any boat, but before we attend to the finer details, let’s just take a moment to appreciate how good the new Avant 705 looks. It might not possess quite the same impact as the relatively radical new Enduro 805, but with its clean-cut hull lines, its lovely proportions, its balanced running attitude, its colour-coded G2 outboard and its long bow rail echoing the line of the wrap-around screen, it brings with it all the clean, uncomplicated promise of a genuine performance powerboat. On the basis of its appearance alone, it seems to be generating some very real anticipation among the 30 marine journalists assembled on our Italian lakeside pontoon – and that’s ample illustration that the aesthetic element of Espen’s latest Nordkapp design very much hits the mark.
The Modern Nordkapp Fleet
Nordkapp build 15 models from 5.5 to 8.05 metres in length. In addition to the Noblesse line of cuddy-equipped day cruisers, there are two lines of open boats – one in console boat format (known as ‘Enduro’) and the other in bowrider format (known as ‘Avant’). The Avant 705 is the largest of the three hull lengths in the product line, and like the smaller Avant 605, it is available both in standard form and as a ‘Ranger’ variant, with a fashionable hybrid concoction of an aluminium hull and fibreglass deck.
The Offset Bowrider Layout
The Nordkapp Avant 705 is a 23-footer with a beam of little more than 7 feet, and that’s really quite rapier- and missile-like for a modern family platform. But when you step on board, it certainly doesn’t feel overly tight. On the contrary, while a conventional bowrider employs a simple symmetrical layout with a central walkway running fore and aft, from stern bench to forepeak, the Avant uses a deeper, more substantial wrap-around screen, with the walkway to port. It’s an unusual configuration, rather like a hybrid of a bowrider and a console boat, and it means that the walkway takes a dog-leg to port before introducing you to a bow where the furniture is arranged in an asymmetrical C shape to starboard.
One of the key benefits of this approach is to be found in the heads compartment, which sits inside the double-width helm console with an access point directly to the left-hand side of the skipper’s knee. There’s decent headroom, generous breadth and nothing to hog the space except the loo, an overhead LED light and some neatly trunked wiring that in no way obstructs your space. The door swings well out of the way to port with the assistance of a telescopic ram – and while the simple cleanliness of this place is a rare treat for a helm console on a boat of such modest scale, a small frosted window above or to port certainly wouldn’t hurt.
Another asset of the Nordkapp-style bowrider is the storage. There are enormous reserves of space up in the offset bow furniture, and its usefulness is increased by the provision of Espen’s trademark semi-open line locker at the apex of the forepeak, which enables quick access to your lines without the need to operate a lid. Similarly, a set of elasticated fender points helps keep the primary storage spaces clear for all your gear. There are three on the port side at the access point to the bow and another one on each side, just ahead of the aft bench – and while you couldn’t call them recessed, such is the clarity of deck space here that your movement is in no way compromised by that.
Back in the cockpit, which is far deeper, more sheltered and frankly less obvious than most bowriders, the key differences are defined by an aft-facing seat pod behind the skipper’s seat on the starboard side and a two-way seat with swinging backrest and convertible sunlounger on the port side. It makes this a very easy spot for seven people to relax in genuine comfort when the weather’s good – but if you leave the cockpit exposed, as it was during our misty, rain-drenched test weekend, the seating fabric seems to soak in the water, before releasing it into the pants of the first man to sit down.
Even so, the aft bench is another pleasing piece of work. It appears to be full beam (and in practice, it functions as though it is), but on both sides Nordkapp have included hinged cushion sections that fold inward, exposing an uncluttered three-step transition over the transom to the swim platforms. It does, of course, mean that, in order to preserve free passage, the backrest stops short of the full beam, leaving a 6-inch gap at either end, and bizarrely the storage box underneath has also been terminated 6 inches earlier on each side than it needed to be. But the space inside the aft bench can be accessed with one hand with the help of a sturdy gas ram, and it can be done without the need to remove any cushions.
There are some neat design touches in evidence elsewhere too – in the drawer fridge beneath the port lounger; in the deep, cleanly lined storage spaces of the two aft swim platforms; and in the slightly fibrous, matt-grey dash surface that helps minimise glare at the helm. There’s also a slight forward curve to the bow door that echoes the curve of the screen above it, and there’s a robust tread pattern built into the gunwale tops aft of the screen that enables easy embarkation amidships. If you look hard, there are still some slightly untidy ‘Friday-night’ elements of finish here and there, where the paint doesn’t quite cover the required surface or a fibreglass edge is irregular and unfiled, but there’s no doubt that the Avant is almost as pleasurable to operate as it is to look at.
Simple Scandinavian Fun
The Avant shares the same hull as the Enduro 705, and while the nature of its fit-out adds around 200kg to the mix, its performance feels very much as pure and uncomplicated as its lighter-footed sister. Even with four men on board and a full fuel tank, she planes in around 2.8 seconds, passes 30 knots in just 9 and tops out at around 42 knots. More to the point, she offers the kind of pickup, and the kind of pace retention under the punishing load of a hard, fast turn, that makes most boats of this size and type look a bit pedestrian.
That’s obviously a trait of Evinrude’s fruity, torque-rich G2 outboard, but the nature of the handling is good fun too. There’s enormous heel whenever you throw her hard over, pressing you down into your seat and jamming you reassuringly against the winged lateral supports. There’s also plenty of grip on offer, plus the kind of composure that sees us coping admirably with the outboard engine’s distinctly imperfect auto-trim function, which on the test boat appears to ignore common sense and trim us out whenever we put the boat into a rapid turn.
It’s a minor hitch, though – and with the trim switch happily restored to manual, there’s no disguising the fact that this boat is a class act. There’s a pervasive feeling of dynamic correctness, and that is assisted in no small way by the excellence of the helm station. It feels very sunken and secure, with quality seats, firm cushioning, easy adjustability and near perfect ergonomics. It engenders a sense of support, protection and composure, and in many ways it feels reminiscent of the helm station on one of Axopar’s multi-award-winning sports boats. For a mainstream family leisure boat at this price point to enable you to feel that way and to make those comparisons is distinctly impressive.
The Avant 705 is a very convincing boat, beautifully matched, both stylistically and dynamically, to one of the finest outboard engines on the market. While many will quite rightly be inclined to investigate Evinrude’s more aggressive and better-equipped High Output E200 outboard, what we have here is a package that is tough to dislike. There are no perceptible fumes at idle, and yet the pickup is profoundly satisfying; the cockpit offers secure seating for seven, and yet the handling is strikingly agile; the aesthetic is raked and sporting, and yet storage and deck space are peculiarly impressive. True, some minor elements of the finish could be improved and the absorbent seat fabric is just plain silly – but such is the combination of user-friendliness, practicality and helming fun that this impressive new entry from Nordkapp makes most conventional bowriders look a little bit puerile.
- Lovely helm ergonomics
- Satisfying sporting ability
- Insistent pickup
- User-friendly storage
- Cool aesthetics
- Superb engine
- The finish falls short in parts
- The seat fabrics are absorbent
- Evinrude’s auto-trim function is flawed
RPM Speed Fuel flow Range
600 1.8 0.8 405.0
1000 4.2 2.5 302.4
1500 6.0 4.4 245.5
2000 7.2 7.8 166.2
2500 10.1 13.7 132.7
3000 12.2 18.0 122.0
3500 16.5 21.6 137.5
4000 19.9 25.0 143.3
4500 25.2 29.1 155.9
5000 35.1 40.4 156.4
5500 38.9 48.0 145.9
5900 42.0 68.8 109.9
- LOA: 7.05m
- Beam: 2.3m
- Weight: 1300kg
- Power: 150–250 hp
- Fuel capacity: 200 litres
- People capacity: 7
- Engine: Evinrude G2 C200
Test boat package price: From £46,959